Most people I know are sleeping at 2 or 3 in the morning. If they’re awake, it’s because one of their children is, too, like a new baby needing milk or a preschooler retelling a bad dream. If their children are asleep, they are, too…usually.
Every one of us has probably experienced that uncharacteristic bit of insomnia that seems to occur when you most need your sleep, like the night before your child’s birthday party or a road trip where you’re the driver. Perhaps, you’ve been awake at this early morning hour when you’re watching the end of a great movie, or at least a movie that isn’t restricted to PG ratings. And I imagine most of us have been up in the middle of the night putting gifts under the Christmas tree or exchanging teeth under the pillow for money or putting candy in the Easter baskets – and perhaps enjoying some of that chocolate without the pressure to share.
But for the most part, parents are likely sleeping during normal sleep hours, the majority of the nights of the year. Unless, like me, you work from home. And then, I know I’m not the only one awake at 2 or 3 in the morning on a regular basis.
I’ve been working from home for the past six years, never a time without children at home, and I’ve come to value the time of day after everyone has gone to bed and is sound asleep. It is a wonderful time to get some work done, the only time of the day that I can be sure to work uninterrupted.
I’ve come to know a lot of fellow work-from-home parents in these odd hours. We all seem to share the same love of uninterrupted work time even at the expense of a full night’s rest – though, rest assured, we do get our sleep. There are plenty of challenges to working from home, but there are also plenty benefits and two are flexible hours and bed in the same building as the office.
Still, I am often surprised when I see another person online at night on the same continent as me. I don’t know how many times I’ve received an e-mail from a colleague at 2 a.m. and replied back with something like, “Wow, you’re up late! Go to bed.” It’s not until that person replies back with “So are you!” that I even realize the irony of my comment.
While I make the conscious decision to forgo my sleep at night in order to spend more of my day with my kids, it’s not an easy decision. I empathize with my fellow work-at-nighters. It is hard to stay balanced, no matter whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or you work outside the home or you work from home. Me time, sleep, and work often compete for the same time slots when the kids are sound asleep. And when you choose to work, you have to be especially careful to be sure to choose me time and sleep when you have the opportunity. Life becomes an even bigger juggling act.
I’m OK with the challenge. I like it, even. But I’ve been doing this for several years and it’s just the way my life is, by now. I don’t even think I can live a “normal” schedule anymore; I tried a little bit a couple years ago and was bored with the routine. I’m to the point where my brain is wired for this work-from-home life; I’m happiest with a full life of kids and work. But when I meet other parents working from home, I often wonder if they knew what they were getting themselves into?
This post is part of the delicate balance series, which chronicles the juggling act of work-at-home attachment parent Rita Brhel.